Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Friday, August 30, 2013

What's Food Got To Do With It?

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins September 4th, and marks a 10-day period of reflection and forgiveness, called Teshuvah (repentance).  We are encouraged to think about our sins over the past year and think about how we can do better, while we ask forgiveness of those we have harmed.  I look forward to this time every year for the opportunity to grow and learn.  It isn't always easy, but it is always worthwhile.

There is something called food teshuvah, where one asks pardons from God for eating forbidden foods or combinations of foods (for example, the rules of kashrut or being kosher).  It got me thinking about how the new year is a great time to think about our eating habits and ask, "Does what I eat cause others suffering?  Am I eating the healthiest for myself, my family, and our planet?"  Obviously, you know I believe the best way to serve ourselves, animals and the planet is to eat vegan or vegetarian, but I don't believe that means you have to go cold turkey (pardon the pun) like I did.  This 10-day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a great opportunity to take stock of your food choices and decide what feels good and what might make you feel better.  This isn't just confined to animal products.  There is also sugar, alcohol, and processed foods.  As I start the new year, I definitely have a few bad food habits that I'd like to improve, and so, I am taking this gift of Rosh Hashanah as the time to jump off and tackle some of them.

Below is a list of some good food habits to get you started in making some small changes to eat and feel better in the new year, whether you go vegan, vegetarian, or flexetarian!

1. Eat meatless one day a week.
2. Eat meatless one meal a day (for example, dinner).
3. Limit alcohol during the week.
4. Have a glass of tea instead of wine at the end of the night.
5. Switch out dessert for fresh fruit.
6. Limit dessert to the weekend.
7. Try switching out a dairy product in a meal for a vegan dairy product.
8. Replace a processed snack with a fresh veggie or fruit snack.
9. Instead of white sugar, try using brown rice syrup, agave, organic unrefined sugar, or other natural sweetener.
10. Order a vegan/vegetarian meal the next time you dine out at a restaurant.
11. Cut the portion of food on your plate in half and only eat that (save the rest for another day).